Good Morning Everyone,
Our theme for this month: “Pushing through adversity”
Our Bible verse for today: “Five times I received from the Jews 40 lashes minus one.” 2 Corinthians 11:24 (HCSB)
Our thought for today: “You can handle more than you think you can.”
As we conclude our month of thinking about “Pushing through adversity” I would like us to consider the example of the Apostle Paul. I can’t think of any other figure from history who faced more adversity for the cause of Christ, over such a long period of time, and who handled it so well. For probably thirty full years Paul faced one trial after another. When one trial or adversity ended another started – sometimes multiple trials at once. But he never let-up and he never gave-up. He just leaned into it, kept going, and pushed through it. Let’s read how he described it in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28:
“Five times I received from the Jews 20 lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the depths of the sea. On frequent journeys I faced dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the open country, dangers on the sea, and dangers among false brothers; labor and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and lacking clothing. Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my care for all the churches.”
Reading Paul’s description of what his life had been like over those thirty-some years can be either depressing or inspiring depending on how you view it. But Paul was not complaining, he was just stating facts to make a point. If you want to know how Paul felt about the things he had faced in life you should turn to his letter to the Philippians, which was written from prison near the end of his life. There he describes the deep sense of joy and contentment he had, and he tells us that he had learned that despite whatever opposition or difficulty he was faced with, he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him. Paul’s letter to the Philippians is a window into his heart and it has become known as “the letter of joy”.
As you continue to face and push through your own times of adversity I encourage you to remember the lessons we have learned this month. Regardless of what’s going on around you, like Paul you have the Holy Spirit of God living within you. That means that you have the Fruit of the Spirit growing in your heart: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23). The Spirit that is in you is far superior to, and more powerful than, the things that are happening around you. That being the case, your joy, and peace, and sense of security is not determined by what is happening around you but by the Spirit who lives within you. Your sense of joy and peace comes from the inside and works its way out, not from the outside working its way in.
Not only can you handle more than you think you can, but you can handle it better than you think you can. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you and you can do them well. With Christ you can handle it all with grace and dignity and confidence and strength.